Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (9.14.22)


Opening statement:

“Excited for the home opener. Get to get in front of our fans Sunday afternoon. I know the players are excited about that. Our fans, they bring it every game. We have gotten to witness it so really excited for them to be out there. I know they are excited, as well.


“The Jets, I have a ton of respect for (NY Jets Head) Coach (Robert) Saleh. Our defense and their defense share some DNA – obviously with (defensive coordinator) Joe (Woods) spending time with Coach Saleh in San Francisco. Really, really sound defense as we know. Good players at all three levels. I think the defensive line is outstanding and then talented players, a first-round pick in the secondary (NY Jets CB Sauce Gardner) making plays. Offensively, again, similar schematically. There are always differences, but there are similarities in some of the things they are doing on offense. Special teams, a really, really good unit. (NY Jets Special Teams Coordinator) Coach (Brant) Boyer does an outstanding job with those guys. We really will have our work cut out for us, and all three sides of the ball have to play a complete game, a 60-minute game. Looking forward to the challenge.


On if he has ever seen a K reach ‘rock star status’ like K Cade York has after the game-winning FG:

“I would not be the one to notice said ‘rock-star status.’ He has his head on straight. He knows that he has to keep working at it.”


On WR Donovan Peoples-Jones making multiple contested catches in Week 1:

“Huge. Huge early and late. He is a guy who we really trust and have trusted since the moment he stepped on campus. He is going to be where he is supposed to be. He is physical. He can run away from you. He can separate and has done that over the course of time. Just in that game, they have some good DBs in that last one so they were playing sticky in coverage at times, and he went up and got the ball.”


On Peoples-Jones’ improving with the ability to take advantage of size and frame:

“I think you have seen Donovan certainly mature physically over the time he has been with us. A young man when we got him and works very hard in the weight room and takes care of his body. Yeah, I think his size is definitely an asset.”


On if offensive confusion on a couple of plays made him rethink how much Browns players, particularly QB Jacoby Brissett, participated in preseason games:

“No, it does not. I think you have to be careful to look at one season of sample size. For us, we take everything into account and take all the things we have done in practice, in meetings, etc. Like we talked about in the preseason, there is not one right way to do it. Some teams have philosophies on other ends of the spectrum. I know some of them probably won and some of them probably lost in Week 1, but there are many more games to go.”


On how Brissett leading the team to a game-winning drive may benefit the team moving forward:

“I think as you guys know with the quarterback and you are the trigger man, you are getting a ton of credit and a ton of blame. For him in that first opportunity to come through on a two-minute drive, we came through in a two-minute drive at the end of the half; we only got three, but operationally, got the ball down there in time to score. We have worked two-minute a ton in practice, walkthroughs and those type of things. Does it give a message to the team? I think your overall play does. How you play, how you lead and how you carry yourself are what sends messages to the team.”


On if the successful two-minute drive near the end of the game gives the team more confidence in Brissett:

“I think winning does, I really do. Just doing enough to win and leading the football team.”


On how the Panthers reacted to the Browns having Hunt and Chubb in the backfield at the same time:

“Carolina had faced a bunch of that personnel-type group previously so we got a lot of tape of how we thought they may respond to that type of personnel grouping. It is really a game-by-game basis of what gives the defense problems.”


On if a defense’s approach is affected when Chubb and Hunt are on the field together:

“Certain defenses have one philosophy and will treat the second runner as one thing, and certain defenses have another philosophy and may play a different front. Sometimes you know going into a game how they are going to respond. Other times, you put it out there to see how they are going to respond, and if it is this, then we will go here and those type of things.”


On where Brissett can specifically improve from Week 1 moving forward:

“I could single out the entire offense just operation. We were there in a loud environment in the heat. We did not operate clean enough, especially early. Put a lot of that on me obviously. Also the quarterback, we put a lot on the quarterback, ask him to run that huddle and those type of things. I think he will continue to get better there. Made a lot of good decisions in the football game. I know there are throws that he can make, will make and those type of things. For us for the players, when you talk about improvement, we are really just looking for the small things – all of the little things that add up to be the big thing. It could be things in individual that we are going to work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week just to shore up some technique.”


On if it is hard to speed up Brissett’s processing, given Brissett has played for multiple teams in the past and if that different experience is a detriment:

“No, I do not think so at all. I think he has seen a lot of football. Just from a defensive perspective, I think being in the divisions he has been in, he has seen all of the defenses that there are so he has a very good feel on defensive coverage rules, pressure answers and those type of things. When it comes to a new system, certainly reads can change a little bit. As we know, terminology oftentimes changes. He has done a really nice job of not letting that slow him down.”


On if the Browns needed last week’s win to prove to themselves that they could win with their style of play and with Brissett at QB:

“No. I do not think of it that way. I do not believe our players do. It is hard to win. It is hard to win on the road. It is hard to win at home. You get tough outs in this league.”


On if he was hesitant to use Hunt and Chubb in the same package in the past or if he felt the team was better off when the two rotated to keep each fresh:

“I really think it is a week-to-week proposition. I think there are times when it makes sense and there are other times when you do want to keep those guys fresh. If they are both playing at a high level, whether they are on the field together or not, it takes a back seat to them playing at a high level and doing things that give the defense difficulty.”


On if Brissett will likely be able to spread the ball around to more targets after playing his first game in the Browns offense:

“Yeah, without a doubt. Sure, yes. I think there are a lot of plays but small sample size in one game where I do think that those things will all even out in terms of touches.”


On G Michael Dunn being used as an extra OL in jumbo sets instead of having TE Jesse James fill that role:

“Like I told you guys, Jesse is very smart, but he just got here so did not want to overburden him. He was not on a team there for a while so wanted to make sure that we did not put too much on his plate. Michael has done a really nice job for us in pass protection and run blocking. Felt like there were some opportunities on some plays where we could get him out there.


On if using Dunn as an extra OL in jumbo packages was a temporary option as James gets up to speed in the Browns offense:

“Could be, but again, if Michael plays well, it is always an option for us.”


On T James Hudson III’s development since joining the Browns:

“I think general understanding of what we are asking him to do and how he is supposed to do it. There is no shortage of individual drill that he has had with (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan and (assistant offensive line) Coach (Scott) Peters. I think just refining his technique. He is a young player. Remember was previously a defensive lineman so there are a lot of things in the offensive line that are nuanced and just it takes time for a young player. He is working very, very hard at it. I think he is doing a nice job.”


On the NY Jets’ run defense:

“Really an impressive front. Going up against Baltimore, which presents all sorts of unique challenges, I thought they did a nice job. They are an attacking front. Again, similar to what we preach here. Just the players that they have that can come off the ball and are physical and they wave them. Will play up to eight defensive linemen and just constantly coming at you. It is just a very aggressive front.


On if the mindset is to remain committed to the running game, even understanding the NY Jets are talented in run defense:

“That is the nature of when we show up and the run game. Teams are going to try and defend the run. We get that. Teams are going to try and defend it in different ways. There are multiple fronts. There are multiple ways that you can get an extra defender in the box and those type of things. What is so important – I just reminded the players – is you fill that bucket up with knowledge about Carolina and how their players play and their scheme, and now, it is you have to fill it back up with, ‘Alright, here is a new scheme. Here are new players,’ and our counterpunches are going to be different because of that.”


On if he knew he was going to hire Woods after the 2019 NFC Divisional game while he was with the Vikings based on how the 49ers defense was playing, including with Saleh on the staff:

“I do not remember. Joe and I had a relationship, I was very impressed with Joe’s influence on that defense. I thought it was impressive. Him together with Coach Saleh I think are two really, really outstanding football minds. That was a great, great defense. I know exactly what Coach Saleh is doing in New York and has all of the pieces of being a very, very, very good defense.”


On the officials picking up the flag on Brissett’s spike at the end of the game and if there are takeaways from it:

“We always do. As you can imagine, I will just go with whatever they ruled. Every single one of those, we spend Friday mornings going over things that happen around the league. Plays like that have happened before so just a matter of learning from all of those moments.”


On there being a gray area with Brissett’s spike and the officials’ call:

“Yeah, and I think Jacoby knew what he was trying to do, and again, the officials ruled what they ruled.”


On if the Browns will adjust or shorten any of the practice schedule this week ahead of next week’s Thursday night game:

“We are. Today’s practice will kind of reflect that. Not going to be a full Wednesday, just keeping next Thursday in mind, but back to a normal Thursday, Friday.”


On TE Zaire Mitchell-Paden:

“Very big. Very strong, strong hands. Works very hard in here all hours working on his craft. A good young player.”


On the decision for RB Jerome Ford to play last week while RB D’Ernest Johnson was inactive:

“Kicking game, kick return. D’Ernest, as you know, we really, really like D’Ernest. There will be times where D’Ernest is going to play, play a lot and help us win, but it just was not last week.”


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